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【Tokyo】Tsukiji, the world’s biggest fish and seafood market2015.08.07

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People come from all over to watch lively tuna auctions, buy fresh seafood and eat quality sushi.

The Tsukiji Market is a major attraction in central Tokyo, Chuo Ward. It is the world’s biggest wholesale fish and seafood market. It consists of the inner wholesale market for professionals and the outer retail market that anyone can visit. It handles more than 400 kinds of seafood under the supervision of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

In 1935, the market opened in Tsukiji, a reclaimed site along the Sumidagawa River and next to the Ginza shopping district. It also deals in fruits, vegetables and flowers. The area is bracing for major changes next year as the inner market will be relocated to the waterfront district of Toyosu in Koto Ward. The new market plans to open in November 2016. The outer market will remain in Tsukiji with the construction of a new facility.

One of the daily highlights in the market is the auction of top-rated tuna. Japan is by far the world’s largest consumer of tuna. However, it is not very easy for foreign tourists to see the trade. The market holds the auctions very early in the morning. The reception for the tours opens at 5 a.m. In addition, the number of the participants is limited to 120 per day. Every year, the first auction of bluefin tuna gets a lot of media attention as the premium fish often sells for astronomical prices then.

Another big attraction is a bluefin tuna cutting demonstration by sushi restaurants and tuna shops in the outer market. Professional skills and special knives are required to cut the fish because of its huge size. A big one weighs as much as 300 kilograms. The experts use five to six kinds of knives with a blade length of 40 to 150 centimeters. The longer knife looks like a Japanese sword. It is usually a two-man job to fillet the massive fish, which takes about 10 minutes. Recently, the entertaining shows are also seen at various commercial facilities such as supermarkets, department stores and pachinko parlors.

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